Transcultural Expressions


The Black German Heritage & Research Association in Africana Studies at Rutgers University-Camden and the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, are pleased to invite you celebrate the Sixth International Conference.

Organized around the theme of “Art as Resistance: Transcultural Expressions,” it seeks to illuminate Black diasporic histories, artistry, and resistance in Europe and beyond.

Registration is free and open to the general public. The event will be held virtually from February 23-25, 2023.

Artwork titled Space for All by Zari Harat.

This conference is also made possible by generous support from English and Communication, Global Studies, History, VMPA, and World Languages.



Elisabeth Clarke-Hasters

Elisabeth Clarke-Hasters, BGHRA Consultant: Arts & Culture studied classical ballet and modern dance in Philadelphia, in North Carolina and at the School of American Ballet in New York She began her acting studies at age 13, and was a member of the Children’s Repertory Theatre in Philadelphia and the Poor People’s Theatre in New York. She was also a member of the Dance Theater of Harlem. She came to Europe in 1971to study at the Mudra school of Maurice Béjart, and danced with the Ballet du XXème Siècle. Before turning to choreography and teaching she worked extensively with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pina Bausch, and performed as an actress in the municipal theaters of Köln, Düsseldorf and Koblenz.
Clarke-Hasters has been a choreographer for the Salzburg Festival, the Burgtheater Wien, the Maggio Musi-cale in Florence, the Oper Leipzig, among others. She was assistant school director at the Arturo Schauspielschule in Köln, and school director at Die Etage in Berlin, where she also led the dance department until 2018. She has also developed several programs for dance in schools, specifically combining dance composition and STEM curriculum. In 2010 she completed her training as a per-sonal development coach and is presently developing several new programs, including a coaching program specifically for People of Color.

Sonya Donaldson

Sonya Donaldson, BGHRA Executive Director of Media & Archive is Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Colby College. She is currently completing her book manuscript, Irreconcilable Differences?: Memory, History, and the Echoes of Diaspora. She has also launched a digital humanities project, “Singing the Nation into Being: Anthems and the Politics of Black Performance,” which focuses on “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” (also known as The Black National Anthem). She received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, where her research focused on Afro-German autobiographical narratives. Dr. Donaldson’s academic research centers on the intersections of race, gender, class, sexual identity, and technologies

Keith Green

Keith Green is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Africana Studies Program at Rutgers–Camden. Dr. Green’s main research and teaching interests lie in African American literature, with more specific investments in the study of the antebellum era, self-referential writing, African-Native American literature, and slave narratives. He has delivered papers on Nat Turner, Harriet Jacobs, Henry Bibb, and William Wells Brown. His current book project, Not Just Slavery: African Americans Write Captivity Narratives, Too: 1816-1879, explores the various kinds of bondage and confinement–specifically Indian slavery, Barbary captivity, and state imprisonment–African Americans experienced and recounted in the nineteenth century.

Rosemarie Peña

Rosemarie Peña is the founder and president of the Black German Heritage and Research Association (BGHRA). In this role, she has co-produced and hosted five international academic conferences on Black European Studies.Rosemarie earned bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and German and both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Childhood Studies at Rutgers University in Camden, NJ. Her research explores displaced childhoods with a special focus on the historical and contemporary intersections of transnational adoption and child migration. Her dissertation, The Rekinning: Portraying Postwar Black German Transnational Adoption, is a discourse analysis of two historical documentary films.

Rosemarie has presented at numerous conferences and is a frequently invited keynote speaker internationally. She is a contributing author in several edited volumes published in both German and English. Her peer reviewed articles have appeared in The Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood, Genealogy Journal, and the Journal of Adoption and Culture. Rosemarie’s most recent essay, “Black Germans: Reunifying in Diaspora” appears in Silke Hackenesch’s editid volume Adopting Children across Race and Nations: Histories and Legacies (Nov. 2023). 

Amazon Author Link

Emily Frazier-Rath

Emily Frazier-Rath, Executive Director of the BGHRA is Visiting Assistant of German Studies at Davidson College in Davidson, NC. She earned her PhD in German Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder in May 2019. Her research interests include the intersections of gender, migration, and race in Europe; activisms, especially refugee activisms; post-1945 German literature, film, and culture; transnational feminist cultural studies; feminist research methodologies and pedagogies; and second-language acquisition.

She earned her Master’s degree in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from the University of Cincinnati in 2013, and her Bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University in 2009. She has also studied at the Universität Hamburg and at the Universität Heidelberg.

Emily has a decade of experience teaching ESL and German to non-native speakers in both Germany and in the U.S. She is TEFL certified, and has completed the Level 1 College Reading and Learning Association (CTLA) International Tutor Training (ITT) Certification. She is a skilled university-level instructor, with experience teaching courses in Holocaust studies, contemporary German culture, post-1989 German film, and Norse mythology.

Emily is an active member of the Coalition of Women in German (WiG), the German Studies Association (GSA), the forum for Diversity and Decolonization and the German Curriculum (DDGC), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages/American Association of Teachers of German (ACTFL/AATG).


Art by Zari Harat


Zari Harat is a visual artist who has studied art, spirituality and teaching which she generously shares with others. She is a cultural merge of being born in the US, South Asian family and living in Germany most of her life. This was her choice and she worked with the women’s movement in Berlin, was as a student of Audre Lorde’s and a single mother who wanted to give her daughter a world of freedom which she believed was easier to accomplish and be an artist in Germany.

Courtesy of Zari Harat

She is a traveller, she is a teacher, she is a friend, she is an artist, she is a healer, she is a bridge person who embraces life beyond Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the US. She cares about her friends and many of her pieces tell stories and speak to dialogue, tolerance, the pandemic lockdown, accidents, healing accidents and brutal encounters and looking for forgiveness to make this earth hers to share with her fellow sentient beings.

Zari is currently residing in Hamburg and was a long-time resident in Berlin having first come there in 1981 so she was at the heart of that young emergence of the hyphenated person that Audre Lorde discussed. Her work is available to purchase and you can find it on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets as well as her website, that her daughter Moira maintains and assists her with. Her daughter Moira Nanina is married to a man from Malawi and they have two daughters so Zari is truly an advocate in the world of choice and love.



The BGHRA Conference’s film events are  made possible through the generosity of the  DEFA Film Library at UMASS Amherst and the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice.

The Homes We Carry

Hammer and compass in Mozambique. We see a GDR flag waved at a rally in Maputo, carried by “Madgermanes”, contract workers who once toiled in eastern Germany. Some of them founded families there, like Eulidio. His daughter Sarah grows up with her mother in Berlin. The relationship with her “second home” is slow in growing, partly thanks to Luana, Sarah’s baby, whose father Eduardo is also from Mozambique. Eulidio still remembers the Lubmin nuclear power plant. Today he fries chips in Springs, South Africa. Meanwhile, Sarah only knew her father from a photo for the longest time: rather cool-looking, wearing a cap. She met him for the first time when she was eleven and felt how comfortable she was surrounded by people whose skin is as dark as hers. As an adult woman she decides to spend some time in Mozambique – and meets Eduardo. On the flight back she’s pregnant. This documentary observation by Brenda Akele Jorde deals with Sarah’s attempt to weave together and spin out threads that were torn by the fall of communism. And it shows the challenges this brings: While Sarah is confronted with racism in Germany, in Africa she’s regarded as a German. While once her father Eulidio was expelled after the fall of the Berlin Wall, now it’s Eduardo who sees his daughter only sporadically. Carolin Weidner

The Wound is Where the Light Enters

The Wound is Where the Light Enters was created by Dheeraj Akolkar (Vardo Films). It is a film about the making of ‘Otino Onywalo Ilum’, a documentary-dance project performed by fifteen children born of wartime rape in Northern Uganda. Otino Onywalo Ilum explores the experiences of children born of war (CBOW), the stigma they face in everyday life, as well as routes to their empowerment. Performances were directed by Darrel Toulon of The Alpha Group. The project aims to support and inspire CBOW to recognise and unleash their potential. It seeks to enable CBOW to make themselves visible and exercise their rights, as well as show how creativity can provide an important outlet and source of healing.

The film won this year’s Inspiration Award at the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research in Film Awards. Many films were submitted for recognition this year, with the judges shortlisting twenty-five. From this selection they chose five eventual winners for different categories. Judges included broadcaster and director of Kush Communications, Zeinab Badawi, inaugural director of V&A East and cultural historian, Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, OBE, and Professor of Film and Television Studies at the University of Nottingham, Paul Grainge. They praised The Wound is Where the Light Enters as “an outstanding film”, expanding on this by emphasising how,

The wounds that each child has experienced become a basis in the film for empowerment in coming together performatively. The director brilliantly captures the dynamic of the group and the workshop and gives voice to the young adults in an accessible documentary that leaves the viewer moved and inspired by acts of collective (and individual) expression.

Congratulations to all those involved in the making of this film and Otino Onywalo Ilum, particularly the participants and children born of war who chose to share their stories through performance.

See below for the trailer for The Wound is Where the Light Enters:


The Wound is Where the Light Enters : Trailer from Vardo Films on Vimeo.

Gabriella Ghermandi

Gabriella Ghermandi is a musician, performer, novelist and short-story writer. She was born in Addis Ababa in 1965 to an Italian father and Ethiopian mother, and raised in Ethiopia. In 1979, a year after her father’s death, Ghermandi moved permanently to Italy. In 1999, her short story “Il telefono del quartiere” (“District Phone”) won first prize in the Eks&Tra literary competition for migrant writers. In 2001 she won the third prize in the same literary competition with her short story “Quel certo temperamento focoso” (That Certain Fiery Temperament).

In 2003, Ghermandi was among the founding members of the online magazine El Ghibli, the first Italian periodical with an editorial board made up of foreign authors who write in Italian.
Parallel to her writing, Gabriella Ghermandi has been building a considerable reputation as a performer of narratives adapted from Ethiopia’s oral and musical tradition. Her readings are usually accompanied by Ethiopian music and songs and revolve around a series of historical events. These performances have toured around the world.

She has been a speaker at events such as the American Association for Italian Studies (AAIS) conference (2007). She was also on the jury of the 23rd Neustadt International Prize for Literature (20013), which was won by her nominee Mia Couto. In April 2007 her first novel, Regina di fiori e di perle, was published by Donzelli Editore, and the English translation, Queen of Flowers and Pearls, came out with Indiana University Press in 2015, and in 2017 translated in Amharic and published in Ethiopia.

In 2010, in an effort to bring together Italian and Ethiopian musicians as a way of fostering mutual dialogue and artistic creation, she created the Atse Tewodros Project. This project got its start in Addis Ababa, growing out of the collaboration between Ethiopian composer Aklilu Zewdy and Professor Berhanu Gezaw. The Atse Tewodros Project is named after one of the most beloved emperors in Ethiopian history, the first emperor not of Ethiopian royal descent. He rose to power due to his perseverance and charisma, qualities that charmed the Ethiopian people to the point that they broke with centuries-old tradition and supported his accession to the throne. Atse Tewodros was the emperor who modernized Ethiopia while respecting its traditions. He was also the emperor who fought against Queen Victoria’s army and defended Ethiopian independence in the century of African colonization.

Brenda Dixon-Gottschild


Brenda Dixon Gottschild is the author of Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance: Dance and Other Contexts; Waltzing in the Dark: African American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era (winner of the 2001 Congress on Research in Dance Award for Outstanding Scholarly Dance Publication); The Black Dancing Body–A Geography from Coon to Cool (winner, 2004 de la Torre Bueno prize for scholarly excellence in dance publication); and Joan Myers Brown and The Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina-A Biohistory of American Performance.  

 Additional honors include the Congress on Research in Dance Award for Outstanding Leadership in Dance Research (2008); a Leeway Foundation Transformation Grant (2009); the International Association for Blacks in Dance Outstanding Scholar Award  (2013); the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Civil Rights Award (2016; a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (2017); the Dance Magazine Award (2022); the New York University Hemispheric Center for American Politics and Performance 2022 Mellon Foundation Artist in Residency Award; and the 2022 Dance History Scholars Scholarly Achievement Award.

 A self-described anti-racist cultural worker utilizing dance as her medium, she is a freelance writer, consultant, performer, and lecturer; a former consultant and writer for Dance Magazine; and Professor Emerita of dance studies, Temple University.  As an artist-scholar she coined the phrase, “choreography for the page,” to describe her embodied, subjunctive approach to research writing.

 Nationwide and abroad she curates post-performance reflexive dialogues, writes critical performance essays, performs self-created solos, and collaborates with her husband, choreographer/dancer Hellmut Gottschild, in a genre they developed and titled “movement theater discourse. and Facebook


Sophie Yukiko

The Reproduction of Power Dynamics in Subcultural Spaces

With a theater director as a father and a modern dance choreographer as a mother, growing up in and surrounded by theatre and dance productions, shaped Sophies childhood. Following her parent’s footsteps, Sophie-Yukiko has been in dance training as far as she can think back. Her mother Elisabeth-Clarke Hasters, once a dancer for companies like the Harlem Dance Theatre, Bèjart or Pina Bausch, had send her to ballet classes as soon as possible.

Getting to know the subcultural dance world as a young teenager, ballet quickly became less interesting to Sophie. As she learned about Hip Hop and House dance, she found a world of diversity that she for the first time could blend in and instantly felt drawn to. Meeting the team of Whogotskillz, she started taking Nu-Style/ commercial dance classes as one of their Protegés. By coincidence, she then found her way into the commercial dance business, without a performing arts degree, straight from the studio on to the stage.

Since 2009, she has been working as a professional dancer, dancing for national tv shows, artists and productions, as well as for world-leading brands. Travelling to Los Angeles and New York City, to exchange with other performers and practice, she was able to see, how different people express themselves through dance, and what stories they tell while moving.

In 2014, she went back to her dancing heritage and the subcultural dance community, looking for something to reignite her love for dance and art. After she met Georgina, the german Trailblazer of Ballroom Culture and Voguing dance, she agreed to walk her first “Ball”. It sparked the passion she had long missed and changed her path and purpose forever.

Voguing now became the biggest and most important part of her dance life and identity as an artist. It is a dance, that emerged out of Ballroom Culture, a culture formed and created by gay, queer and trans* people of color.

In July of 2019, the former House of Melody, the first german House founded by Georgina, became the European chapter of the House of Saint Laurent, one of the oldest, still existing Houses of Ballroom history, also known from the critically acclaimed award winning documentary “Paris is burning” from the year 1990.

Sophie is known in Ballroom as Yukiko Saint Laurent Laveaux. She is the german Overseer of the Iconic House of Saint Laurent and the Overall founding mother of the Kiki House of Laveaux.

In her artistic work, she centers the topics of memory and heritage, legacy, violence and perception.

Currently, Sophie works as a screenwriter and author, as well as cultural curator performance artist and actress.



Brenda Akele Jorde

Brenda Akele Jorde (1993, Hamburg, Germany) is the daughter of a German photographer/web designer and a Ghanian DJ/ restaurant owner. She got interested in documentary film during her undergraduate studies (Media Studies at the University of Potsdam). Her final project included the short documentary film portrait VA-BENE which was screened at festivals around the world and which encouraged her to pursue a career as a documentary filmmaker. Between 2018 and 2022 she studies Documentary Film Directing (MA) at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf and shot the shortfilms A WAY OF BREATHING (2020) in Iran, STICK OF JOY (2020) in Berlin as well as her first feature length documentary film THE HOMES WE CARRY (2022). Her films so far deal with self empowerment through art, queerness or effects of migration for the individual. Brenda also works on film festivals in Berlin and as a circus pedagogue in social institutions.

Dana Winston-Day

Dana Day is a New York born, Bath, UK -based actor. She has trained and performed widely in theatre in the US and UK with an MA in performing Shakespeare from Bath Spa Uni her most recent academic achievement. She is the cofounder of Momentum Acts and recently finished a production of Othello in which she played the title role. Dana was a part of an earlier audio version of A Moving Grove where she voiced Bottom/Porter.

Read more about Dana HERE!

Darrel Toulon

Darrel Toulon born 1964.Education in Dominica and UK United World College of the Atlantic Wales, and Central School of Ballet London. Since 1987 working as a dancer, singer and actor in Cologne Germany in 1987, appearing as Soloist with Zürich Ballet Opera. Several Solo roles including: Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet”, Joseph in “Josephs Legend”, Garcia in “Carmen”. As Actor has worked for German Stage and Television. Roles include : Aziz, Episode Lead-Role in TV Series “Himmel und Erde” for ARD TV, and Antonio in “Club der Träume – Yucatan” for WDR TV, Ramon in “Love! Valour! Compassion!” in Graz. Lysander in “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Macbeth in “Threepenny Opera” at St. Donat’s Arts Center in Glamorgan, Wales.
From 2001 until 2015 Ballet Director of Opera Graz. Curator and producer for over 50 Productions, International Dance Gala and over 40 editions of the Talk-Show-Format “Tanz Nite”.

In 2006, founded “the alpha group”, performing in Austria, Germany and Czech Republic.
As Choreographer has created over 30 Full-Evening productions in Venezuela, Dominica, Kosovo, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Germany. Teaching and Seminars include European Forum Alpbach, Pro Scientia Summer Academy in Mattrei, and UWC Short Course in Imst. Lecturer at University of Fine Arts in Graz, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste ZHdK. Musik und Kunst Privat Universität Wien (MUK). Juror for “No Ballet” International Choreographic Competition in Ludwigshafen, Copenhagen International Choreographic Competition, and Wien Welt Wettbewerb. Dance Expert for “Talent Scouting Days” for Danse Suisse Berufsverband Zürich.

Recent projects: Community Dance Project “THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR” created with Refugees living in Graz which was performed in Austria and Switzerland, Dance Advisor for Austrian Federal Arts Council and Graz Municipal Culture Council.
In 2002 awarded the “Spezialpreis für besondere Leistung im Österreichischen Tanz”for successfully transforming the traditional Opera-Ballet of Graz into a contemporary Dance Company: TANZ,GRAZ. In 2016 awarded the Goldene Ehrenzeichen des Landes Steiermark.


The BGHRA is immensely grateful for the following sponsors whose support is making this amazing conference possible. Thank You!

Suggested Donation for BGHRA 2023 Conference to Support BGHRA Annual Spring Fundraiser

Thank you very much for registering for the 2023 BGHRA Conference, “ART AS RESISTANCE: Transcultural Expressions,” which will take place February 23-25, 2023.

The BGHRA is a nonprofit organization without membership dues. Funding for the conference comes from various sources. Ultimately, however, a significant portion of our budget comes from individual donations. There is no registration fee for the conference, but we would welcome those of you with access to resources to contribute to the BGHRA Annual Spring Fundraiser. Any amount will go a long way in supporting our initiatives.



see all our videos!